WWI: U.S. Enters the War: What Changed

Despite the U.S. position, many Americans personally sympathized with Britain, France, and their allies. American institutions lent large sums to the Allied governments, giving the U.S. a financial stake in the outcome of the war. Nearly 10% of Americans identified as ethnic Germans, most of whom hoped the United States would remain neutral in the war.

What Changed?

In November of 1916, President Woodrow Wilson won a close re-election under the slogan “He Kept Us Out of War.” Yet in early 1917 when Russia’s internal political revolutions effectively took them out of the war against Germany, the prospects for the Allies darkened. Already receiving massive shipments of supplies and a near limitless line of credit from the U.S., the Allies needed reinforcements.

When easing Eastern military pressures made more forces available for their Western Front, Germany sensed the tide was turning. To capitalize on the shift, German leaders agreed in January of 1917 to resume unrestricted submarine warfare to break the devastating army stalemate in Europe and the British navy’s successful blockade of critical German supply ports. This pushed American public opinion toward intervention.

.. Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare strategy sent more merchant and passenger ships to the ocean’s floor and the loss of American lives mounted. The U.S. protested and in February severed diplomatic relations with Germany, while Congress appropriated funds for increased military affairs.About the same time, British cryptographers intercepted and began deciphering Germany’s “Zimmermann Telegram” offering U.S. territory to Mexico in return for joining the German cause. Though Mexico declaring war was not perceived as an imminent threat by the American public, sensational headlines trumpeted each new development as one of history’s most influential acts of codebreaking played out. Across the nation, support grew for intervention.

On March 20, almost a month after the Zimmerman Telegram hit the American press, President Wilson convened the Cabinet to discuss moving from a policy of armed neutrality to war. It was unanimous: all members advised war. With a proclamation already being drafted by President Wilson, the American steamship Aztec was torpedoed and sunk by Germany on April 1.

On April 2, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany specifically citing Germany’s renewed submarine policy as “a war against mankind. It is a war against all nations.” He also spoke about German spying inside the U.S. and the treachery of the Zimmermann Telegram. Wilson urged that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”

Major Causes of World War I

  1. MILITARISM was one of the four major causes of the war. It was an “arms race.” Because Britain had a large navy, Germany wanted a large navy too. Germany and France competed to build larger armies. Many nations introduced “universal conscription” (the draft), even in times of peace. For reasons of prestige and self-defense, the more one nation built up its army and navy, the more other nations felt they had to do the same. The expense of the “arms race” fell on civilian populations in the form of high taxes. Between 1870 and 1914, all of the major powers except Great Britain and the United States, doubled the size of their armies.
  2. ALLIANCES For twenty years, the nations of Europe had been making alliances. It was thought the alliances would promote peace. Each country would be protected by others in case of war, making it foolish for one country to wage war on another.
  3. .. IMPERIALISM Another cause of World War I was that European nations ruled smaller countries, called colonies, and competed with each other to amass more colonies. Gathering colonies is known as IMPERIALISM. The purpose of imperialism was and is to build up national wealth and influence by owning colonies. Both France and Britain had many colonies in Africa and Asia. In the 1880s and 1890s, Germany and Italy decided they wanted a colonial empire too. This global competition for land caused confrontations and conflicts in many places. For example, Great Britain almost went to war with France and the United States during the 1880s over colonies.
  4. NATIONALISM In addition to political conflicts, the causes of the war included such forces as nationalism, or pride in one’s country. The belief that one’s own nation or culture is superior to all others, nationalism led European nations to compete to build the largest army and navy. It also gave groups of subject peoples the idea of forming independent nations of their own. Serbians, Czechs, Slovaks, Bosnians and many other peoples living under the rule of the Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian Empires wanted freedom from “foreign” rule.

Trump’s Fight with Corker Jeopardizes His Legislative Agenda

In unloading on Mr. Trump, Mr. Corker, a two-term senator from Tennessee, said in public what many of his Republican colleagues say in private — that

  1. the president is dangerously erratic and unstable, that
  2. he treats his high post like a television show and that
  3. he is reckless enough to stumble the country into a nuclear war.

.. The president has already seen what can happen with a 52-vote Senate caucus that can be thwarted by the defection of just three Republicans. Until now, Mr. Corker has not been one of the renegades on those high-drama votes that killed Mr. Trump’s health care legislation. By himself, Mr. Corker could make it that much harder for the president to hold a fragile majority on upcoming votes on taxes, among other priorities — and if he emboldens other Republican doubters, it could add to Mr. Trump’s challenge.

The White House spent Monday morning telling its allies that Mr. Corker is responsible for the fight, not Mr. Trump, and that the senator was an attention-seeking obstructionist. But few of Mr. Trump’s allies accepted that narrative. One close associate of the president, who asked not to be identified to discuss the situation more candidly, said Mr. Trump’s entire agenda could be dead because Mr. Corker has a lot of friends on Capitol Hill.

.. “every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.”

.. many Senate Republicans no doubt were relieved not to be in session this week

.. repeatedly blocked, lashing out at Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader, for not getting the job done. He has also engaged in open conflicts with Senators

  1. John McCain and
  2. Jeff Flake of Arizona,
  3. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina and
  4. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, among others.

.. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and his allies were incredulous that the president would anger a senator just a week before a budget vote that is critical to tax cuts when the party’s 52-vote majority can be thwarted by just three defections.

.. “Under the normal, traditional rules of politics of the last 40 years of my life, a president would not poke a senator in the eye when he has a two-seat majority and a major legislative agenda needing to be accomplished,” said former Representative Thomas M. Reynolds

.. “Corker’s comments carry credibility because of his reputation as a thoughtful senator not known for shooting from the hip,” he said. “There is an old saying in politics: Don’t pick a fight with someone who has nothing to lose.”

.. Stephen K. Bannon, acting in what he says is the president’s interest, is organizing a rebellion against the Republican establishment and recruiting candidates to challenge incumbent senators in primaries next year. Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff has talked about a “purge” of Republicans who are not loyal to Mr. Trump.

.. They also stood against him when he engaged in a protracted public campaign against his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a former colleague of theirs in the Senate, warning him that if he fired Mr. Sessions they would not confirm a successor

.. “Guys like Bob Corker, I think, have reached the point where it’s like, ‘Can we not pretend the emperor is not naked? Can we not pretend the emperor is not unstable in a way that we should’ve understood very, very clearly more than a year or two years ago?’” Charlie Sykes

.. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Corker could single-handedly block the confirmation of a new secretary of state should Mr. Trump push out his embattled chief diplomat, Rex W. Tillerson

.. He would presumably play a key role in any decision on whether to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. And as a longtime deficit hawk, he could also become a challenge for Mr. Trump as the president seeks to pass deep tax cuts that would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt.

.. said to have told associates that the 5-foot-7 senator was too short.

The Reagan-era invasion that drove North Korea to develop nuclear weapons

Few Americans will recall the 1983 invasion of a small Caribbean nation thousands of miles from North Korea. But in fact, this conflict set the stage for the nuclear standoff today. It intensified the animosity between the two countries, sending North Korea on a quest for nuclear weapons to combat what it saw as a looming American threat.

In October 1983, the United States invaded Grenada. The Kim family regime that controls North Korea saw this invasion as an early warning sign: If the United States could perceive even a small spice island as a threat, so too could it eventually train its sights on North Korea. Without an effective deterrent, any regime perceived as a threat would be little match for American military might.

.. Shortly after establishing diplomatic relations with Grenada in 1979, Kim Il Sung offered large amounts of free technical and agricultural assistance to Bishop’s regime. From sending tractors and cement to helping build the national stadium in the capital city of St. George’s, North Korea spared no expense in assisting its Grenadian allies.

.. The North Koreans also provided a large cache of weapons to Grenada. According to documents captured by American military forces during the invasion, when Bishop visited North Korea in April 1983, the two countries signed a secret military agreement. North Korea’s “free offer of military assistance” gave the Grenadians 12 million U.S. dollars worth of weapons and ammunition

.. President Ronald Reagan justified his decision to launch Operation Urgent Fury by citing the presence of 600 American medical students in Grenada and a military coup that took place six days before the invasion. Reagan argued that the coup, which deposed Bishop and brought even more radical Stalinists to power on the island, threatened to destabilize the entire Caribbean region.

.. After observing the swift destruction of the Grenadian revolution, Kim Il Sung feared that Reagan would launch an invasion of North Korea similar to Operation Urgent Fury and overthrow his government in a matter of weeks. Reagan’s strict anti-communist policy and his increased commitment to the U.S.-South Korea military alliance — Reagan had ratcheted up joint military exercises on the peninsula — unsettled Kim Il Sung.

.. In a 1984 conversation with East German leader Erich Honecker, Kim Il Sung lamented, “Every year the American armies conduct a major military exercise. They conducted these exercises even before the Reagan era, but since Reagan took office this has grown.” Kim Il Sung also fretted to Honecker that Reagan would never withdraw U.S. troops from South Korea and the American military presence would impede his plans for the reunification of the Korean peninsula. Kim Il Sung perceived Reagan’s combination of staunch support for South Korea and militant rhetoric, on top of the invasion of Grenada, as a sign that North Korea might be next.

.. He knew that just as Grenada’s military could not match the powerful United States military in battle, neither could his military stop a U.S. invasion. He knew that he needed a far greater deterrent to keep the Americans at bay and protect his regime. Thus, three years after the U.S. invasion of Grenada, the North Korean leadership established a Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, which formally declared Kim Il Sung’s intention to develop a nuclear weapons program.

.. North Korea will never abandon its nuclear weapons program, because it believes that without it, nothing would deter an American invasion aimed at regime change. North Korea will not even establish a dialogue with the United States if the Trump administration insists on Kim Jong Un dropping his nuclear weapons program.